Why are you passionate about this topic?
Living by the ocean I have been provided with a backdrop, which in my eyes, is unrivaled by any other. It’s perfect, pure, and humongous. It also has a different look and feel to it every time my feet touch the sand. It’s nature renewing itself on a daily basis, which is pretty cool.
I have lived by the ocean in Torquay, Australia for 18 years, and I have been photographing families and children on the beach for about 10 years now. I am not a surfer or ocean swimmer so before photography I didn’t already have a strong connection with the ocean other than just thinking it was bloody beautiful. But I can see the impact it has. That connection folk feel with the ocean is inspiring and magnetic. It is a big, living, breathing organism I have grown very attached to. I never leave a beach shoot feeling anything but refreshed and happy.
I have seen time and time again a toddler or a small child who literally hits the ground running towards the water. Sometimes if mum and dad were not there to stop them they would just keen going. They are happy, animated and content. It’s the perfect mood for candid portraits. For older kids it means they are relaxed and less likely, thankfully, to feel self-conscious.
My passion grows by seeing families connect and kids in their own little world, totally in awe of their surroundings! The beach brings out the best natural expressions and creates treasured lifetime memories.
My passion is still developing and I love the idea of being more creative like in the yellow raincoat and brolley image. So many ideas swimming in my head, and I think with Winter on the way I will have the beach to myself on more than one occasion
When did you realize you first liked this topic?
Once I had picked up a camera with serious intention, which happened after I had taken a photo of my son as a 3 month old baby that took my breath away, I knew I had to use the beach as a backdrop. It was in my back yard, and I suspected it would be a popular choice. I have a studio, but 8 times out of 10 it is the beach that is chosen. So to a degree I think when you live by the beach it must feel so good to capture your loved ones in an environment that everyone loves, and this way you can bring a piece of it into your home.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
Nature is a beautiful, but fickle mistress! One moment she gives you unrivaled perfection and the next you can almost hear her muffled giggles in the breeze as she dishes up a smorgasbord of elements all designed to make you work your butt off for each shot.
But there are definitely ways of reducing the impact. For example never underestimate a cloudy day. Clouds are nature’s soft boxes. And golden hour is so named not just for its colour I like to think, but also for it being worth its weight in gold when it all comes together. Other times of day are doable too, like a sunny day using fill flash, but they just don’t have the same impact as using either end of the day.
I’ve always had a good relationship with the tide chart, and never book a session without consulting that trusty guide. My belief was the lower the tide the better. The beach will just be so much bigger at low tide. I still hold this belief thought recently I was caught out with a high tide, and loved the extra element of drama it gave the shoot, but I would only use a high tide for families with older kids.
I tend to use the whole beach so I take some shots in the dry sand just sitting around or playing, but nothing beats the wet sand and all the amazing reflections.
I think consideration to wardrobe is particularly important on the beach, as some things just look so out of place, like shoes! Shoes are a big no no, for me! I also prefer if possible more subtle colours to blend with the natural surroundings unless you are being very intentional about what you want to achieve. For example a bright colour against grey clouds has impact.
Probably the main thing I would avoid though is the wind. Wind is not good for long hair in particular, unless you want to look like Cousin It!
And my last tip would be to aim for the beach looking like it is purely there for your subject. You can achieve a little of this in Photoshop, but best to pick the right day and time. I think some of the hardest shoots I’ve had have been because there are too many others using the beach. I now avoid tourist season, and a really hot day.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
To be honest I don’t feel it was a big challenge; it was more just fun to experiment and develop from experience. Get out there and have a go and you will love it! Don’t wear shoes, roll up your pants 😉 and don’t drop the camera in the water!
About the photographer:
My name is Adrienne, I run Little Black Rabbit, and as I emerge from having small children into teen life I feel the world opening itself up to me and I am excited about all the photographic possibilities presenting themselves, and its going to be fun. I am predominately a family portrait photographer, but I also take lots of kinder portraits, which are both rewarding and exhausting. My goal is to focus on creative portraits for both children and women.